The destructive “yellow vest” demonstrations that turned Paris upside down were mainly a protest against high gas taxes in France. Even in liberal Washington State, its voters defeated a carbon tax by 56 to 44 percent last November, and by a wider margin in 2016. Now the liberal U.S. Chamber of Commerce is wanting to drag President Trump down by pushing for a gas tax hike on the national scale.
The wasteful way government fails to maintain roads is the real problem, and hiking gas taxes will not repair that. We’ve all seen the familiar sight on interstate highways of endless construction sites that lack real work activity, but are diverting traffic far longer than they should. The same idea of increasing the gas tax is already being supported and pursued by liberal states like California, Illinois, and New Jersey. Each of those states have enacted or are considering sharp increases in their own state gas tax in addition to the federal tax.
In New Jersey, the gas tax was increased by 23 cents a gallon in 2016, and then an additional 4.3 cents last year. Yet another gas tax increase there is possible later this year, with little to show for it except angrier drivers.
In California, where prices already average an eye-popping $3.80 per gallon, a new state tax of 5.6 cents per gallon will hit this summer. Legislation in the Illinois state senate proposes doubling the gas tax there, to 38 cents per gallon.
Simple economics say that when the price of a good goes up, demand for the good goes down and a smaller amount is sold. An increase in gas taxes means fewer car trips, less shopping, a decline in summer family vacations on the road, and millions of angry daily commuters who vote. None of that is good for America, and certainly none of that is good for the Trump reelection campaign. Trump should ignore the bad advice of the supposedly “pro-business” Chamber of Commerce and look instead at the needs of the average Americans who have to commute back and forth to work every day. They are the key to a 2020 Trump victory.